Historic Building, Still in Use
Built in 1894, the original eight-room Southwood Elementary School cost
$16,000 to construct on this site purchased from a local family for
$3,000. The school originally had five teachers and a teacher-pupil
ratio of 50-1. Mary Esper was the school's first principal and German
language instructor, staying until her retirement in 1923. Children
attended grades one through eight and special biweekly classes in
carpentry and cooking. The school had its first graduation ceremony
in 1896, with six boys and seven girls being promoted to high school.
By 1912, the school had grown to 17 rooms with 16 teachers and 735
students. A Parent Teacher Association (PTA) was formed in 1917,
raising money for school supplies and equipment, food and clothing
for needy Great Depression families, trees for the school grounds,
cookies and candies for service men in World War II, scholarships, a
new library, and much more.
The Southwood Elementary School, designed by the first architect
employed by Columbus Public Schools, David Riebel, is noted for
its Romanesque Revival architectural style. A fine example of
intricate decoration achieved with brick, the building was placed
on the Columbus Register of Historic Properties. In the 1990s,
a joint venture among community members, the City of Columbus,
and Southwood Elementary School resulted in a major investment
toward improving the grounds and landscape around Southwood,
with community funds used for playground expansion and equipment.
Also, significant development went into adjacent Southwood-
Mileusnich Park that is named for Mike Mileusnich, a South
Columbus community activist. For more that 50 years starting
in 1935, Milesunich was a leader in local school athletics, Council
of South Side Organizations, Steelton Merchants Association,
Southeast Lions Club, and American Legion. Southwood Elementary
School later underwent a major renovation and expansion, completed in 2009.